American Psychiatric Nurses Association Honors Seven Nurses for Outstanding Contributions to Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

American Psychiatric Nurses Association Honors Seven Nurses for Outstanding Contributions to Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

Barbara Drew, PhD, APRN, BC and Shirley Smoyak, PhD, RN, FAAN

Arlington, VA (PRWEB) June 14, 2011

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association announces the recipients of its 2011 APNA Annual Awards. These awards honor individuals who exemplify a superior dedication to and passion for the psychiatric mental health nursing profession. Awards recipients were nominated by their peers and chosen by a committee of their APNA colleagues. The awards will be presented to seven psychiatric mental health nurses at the APNA 25th Annual Conference in October.

This year’s recipient of the prestigious APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year award is Barbara Drew, PhD, APRN, BC. The Psychiatric Nurse of the Year award recognizes a psychiatric mental health nurse who demonstrates vision, perseverance, dedication, initiative and facilitation in the delivery of mental health services to individuals, families and their communities. Dr. Drew is a past president of APNA and an Associate Professor at Kent State University’s School of Nursing, where she established a successful child and adolescent psychiatric nursing program. Most recently, she has been heavily involved as Chair of the APNA/ISPN LACE Implementation Task Force, working to create a framework for the implementation of the Consensus Model for Advanced Practice Nursing within psychiatric mental health nursing. “Barb demonstrated her ability to visualize a need for a future where the public would have a clear understanding of what advanced nursing practice is, who advanced practice psychiatric mental health nurses are, and a more coherent conception of what to expect from these practitioners,” says Jeanne A. Clement, one of the psychiatric nurses who recommended her for the award. “She is…a leader who leads and inspires by her ability to have a vision of the future.”

APNA is also honoring Shirley Smoyak, PhD, RN, FAAN with the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her commitment, initiative, loyalty, integrity, and exceptional and meritorious service to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. “Perhaps more than any other living individual, Dr. Smoyak has helped shape, teach and preserve the body of knowledge that is psychiatric nursing. Truly, our profession owes her a debt of gratitude because of her long standing advocacy; she truly represents distinguished service and is deserving of this award,” says nominator and mentee Teena McGuiness, PhD, CRNP, FAAN. Dr. Smoyak, a professor at Rutgers’ College of Nursing and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, is a respected researcher and author in the field of mental health. She is known internationally as an advocate for psychiatric mental health nursing as well as for her pioneering work on the relationship between family systems and the patient with mental illness. A charter member of APNA who has served on its Board of Directors in the past, Dr. Smoyak continues to be an active and vocal member in the association.

APNA further honors the following psychiatric mental health nurses for excellence in practice, education, leadership, and innovation in the field of PMHN:

Award for Excellence in Education:

M. Jane Suresky, DNP, PMHCNS-BC

Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, OH

Award for Innovation – Individual:

Michael Terry, DNP, FNP, PMHNP

Hahn School of Nursing & Health Sciences, University of San Diego

San Diego, CA

Award for Excellence in Leadership – Advanced:

Lisabeth Johnston, PhD, APRN, CS

Independent Practitioner

West Hartford, CT

Award for Excellence in Practice – APRN:

Patricia Cunningham, DNSc, APN PMHNP/CNS-BC, FNP-BC

Memphis, TN

Award for Excellence in Practice – RN-PMH:

Marcia Melby, RN-BC, PMH

Community Mental Health Center

Fresno, CA

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is a national professional membership organization committed to the specialty practice of psychiatric-mental health nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders. APNA’s membership is inclusive of all psychiatric mental health registered nurses including associate degree, baccalaureate, advanced practice (comprised of clinical nurse specialists and psychiatric nurse practitioners), and nurse scientists and academicians (PhD). APNA serves as a resource for psychiatric mental health nurses to engage in networking, education, and the dissemination of research.


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Asian American Teenage Girls Have Highest Rates of Depression; NAMI Releases Report

Asian American Teenage Girls Have Highest Rates of Depression; NAMI Releases Report

Arlington, VA (PRWEB) February 16, 2011

Asian American teenage girls have the highest rate of depressive symptoms of any racial, ethnic or gender group according to a report released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The report is based on a “listening session” with mental health experts from different Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities held in Los Angeles in November 2010.

Key issues in the report include barriers to mental health services and negative perceptions of mental health problems particular to AAPI communities.

The report highlights statistics from the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) and National Asian Women’s Health Organization (NAWHO) posing concern.

    Asian American girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of any racial/ethnic or gender group;
    Young Asian American women ages 15 to 24 die from suicide at a higher rate than other racial/ethnic groups;
    Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall, compared to the ninth leading cause of death for white Americans;
    Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over 65; and
    Among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet criteria for major affective disorders such as depression—with 81 percent among Cambodians and 85 percent among Hmong.

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent a rich diversity of languages and cultures” said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick. “They include traditions from China, India, Vietnam, Korea and the Philippines to name only a few. Mental health care must recognize cultural differences as well as common concerns inside our broader national community.”

Recommendations include:

    A national strategy of outreach and engagement using cultural messages, ambassadors and social media;
    A linguistically and culturally responsive mental health workforce, including recruitment of bilingual and bicultural members of the AAPI community; and.
    Recognition of cultural influences such as tight-knit family connections and individual and family desires to avoid stigma and shame from seeking treatment.

NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center convened the listening session. Participants included:

    Asian American Studies Program; California State University
    Asian Health Coalition
    Center for Education Empowerment
    Charles B Wang Community Health Center
    Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
    Chinese American Mental Health Outreach Program (NAMI New Jersey)
    Lehigh University
    NAMI Orange County
    NAMI San Diego
    NAMI San Francisco
    Pacific Clinics
    Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services
    Rams Inc.
    U.C.-Davis School of Medicine
    Rethink BPD
    San Mateo County Health Department
    Union of Pan-Asian Communities and
    Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1,100 state and local affiliates engaged in research, education, support and advocacy.


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“American Riviera” to See Increase in Homelessness

“American Riviera” to See Increase in Homelessness

Santa Barbara, CA (PRWEB) April 17, 2008

Known by many as the American Riviera and made famous by many celebrity residents, (including Oprah and soon-to-be resident, Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), the ocean-side community of Santa Barbara County could soon be facing a drastic increase in homelessness if proposed budget cuts by the Department of Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health Services (ADMHS) are approved by the Board of Supervisors on April 22.

The budget cuts include a 60%, $ 6 million cut to community-based programs that provide safety-net services to the mentally ill, as well as a $ 2.7 million cut to County operated mental health clinics, ensuring that many people who need services in the future will be denied access to care.

“This is not the way we do things in Santa Barbara,” said Annmarie Cameron, Executive Director at the Mental Health Association.

“The draconian budget cuts proposed by the ADMHS management put a final strain on a safety net that is already frayed. We should all be afraid of the consequences.”

By its own report, ADMHS acknowledges that among the devastating consequences of this proposal, a significant number of people who are now housed and treated will soon become homeless when lifelines are terminated.

Santa Barbara County is in the top third wealthiest California counties based on per capita income, yet only invests at the 2 percent level in its mental health system. The average for California counties is six percent. In June 2004, the median home price in Santa Barbara surpassed $ 1,000,000. Traditionally the area has had a significant homeless population, due in part to the high cost of living

Last year, 22 homeless people died on the streets of the south coast. Tragically, many, if not most, of those people were mentally ill. If the proposed mental health service cuts go into effect July 1st, this number will likely grow exponentially.

The proposed cuts would purge more than 800 people from the ADMHS caseload, removing the lifelines that support recovery and permanent supportive housing with many of these people becoming homeless.

Referring to a recent County-sponsored effort to re-design the mental health system, Barry Schoer, Executive Director of Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers, said “the process of saving community-based mental health services for the mentally ill has been plagued with divisiveness and a blinding focus on budget instead of people.”

Not only do local leaders expect an unacceptable increase in the level of homelessness and street deaths among the mentally ill, but the cost of providing emergency medical treatment or inpatient care is up to nine times more expensive than providing permanent supportive housing.

ALL4CMH (Association of Local Leaders for Community Mental Health) requested a special hearing before the Board of Supervisors separate from the April 22nd regular agenda, at a time when everyone in the community is free to attend and demand care and justice for the mentally ill. A response from the County is pending.

Prior to the April 22 hearing, ALL4CMH is hosting a community Mental Health Rally on April 18, 2008 2- 4 p.m. at Alameda Park in downtown Santa Barbara (corner of Micheltorena and Anacapa). The rally will focus on how to save mental health services, and will include guest speakers, music and refreshments.

Meanwhile, details on the impact of the proposed budget cuts, and the ongoing struggle to improve the plight of the mentally ill through better management and a much-needed redesign of the system can be found at the campaign’s new website:

Association of Local Leaders for Community Mental Health, or ALL 4 CMH is a coalition formed by local leaders of nonprofit mental health and housing agencies on February 6, 2008 to promote improved delivery and increased efficiency of mental health services and housing supports in Santa Barbara County.

ALL 4 CMH members represent more than 200 years of leadership in local nonprofit agencies with expertise in fund development and high-quality mental health services. Please visit for more information.


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Unique Native American Remedy; Natural Gum Healing Clay Toothpaste Available at Whole Foods Mill Valley and Roseville.

Unique Native American Remedy; Natural Gum Healing Clay Toothpaste Available at Whole Foods Mill Valley and Roseville.

San Francisco, CA. (PRWEB) June 01, 2011

Today, Zion Health announces the availability of ClayBrite Natural Toothpaste in Whole Foods Mill Valley and Whole Foods Roseville. Claybrite is a unique brown colored toothpaste sweetened with Stevia leaf extract that is known to whiten the teeth, and help heal gum disease. Natural health consumers who live in Sacramento or Mill Valley may now purchase this unique brown colored toothpaste in their local Whole Food Store or internet shoppers may order ClayBrite Natural Toothpaste online at

“Whole Foods is recognized for selling the highest quality organic body care products. This makes our natural clay toothpaste an excellent addition to their already unique line of natural remedies and herbal body care products.” says Eddy Urbina, Zion Health sales manager. “ClayBrite consists of mainly clay and mint which is a healthy alternative to standard toothpastes currently available in grocery outlets and retail chains.”

Zion Health’s light brown colored toothpaste contains a unique type of clay called Kanwa or referred to by scientists as Calcium Montmorillonite clay. Calcium Montmorillonite is a natural, edible type of clay that contains trace minerals that are healthy to eat and serves as a gentle detox remedy. NASA sponsored research and latest research from MIT both claim this type of clay contains healthy nutrients and a natural pulling power that helps absorb toxins including harmful bacteria.

Zion Health sells a full line of healing clay body care products made with Kanwa including natural skin care products, and detox remedies. Their inspiration comes from ancient native practices of healing with clay. Native Americans commonly used clay to clean the gums and brush their teeth. Clay was additionally used in native medicine to soothe digestive ailments and heal wounds. The American Journal of Medicine reported African tribes used clay to detoxify contaminated water and poisonous foods.

“Certain types of clay contain powerful medicinal properties that help heal a long list of health ailments,” states Gloria Vilchez, Zion Health marketing manager. “In France, Montmorillonite clay is sold by bulk in most health food stores as a healthy supplement to the diet. The U.S. needs to catch up when it comes to the distribution of natural medicines.”

Zion Health products are available in local health food stores and Whole Food Store locations in Redwood City, San Ramon, San Mateo, Cupertino, including the recent addition of Whole Foods Mill Valley and Roseville. Zion’s natural body care products may also be purchased online at



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The Flairs Announce Shut Up and Drive & North American Tour

The Flairs Announce Shut Up and Drive & North American Tour

(PRWEB) April 15, 2006

After creating a buzz with their 2004 debut EP, The Flairs are ready to rock the world with the new full length CD Shut Up and Drive. The first single and video is a spin on Skid Row’s “18 & Life” which will hit rock radio this month, with the CD being released May 16th in Canada (Pacific Music/Warner) and June 13th in the U.S (Burnside). Hard-working as ever, The Flairs are preparing for their intensive cross Canada and US tours which kick off in Vancouver May 19th.

After virtually growing up in Tuuli and opening for bands such as The Donnas, Disturbed and Rock legends Cheap Trick, Dawn Mandarino (vocals and guitar) and Jen Foster (drums and vocals) decided to form their own band. The Flairs story started in the summer of 2002 when Dawn and Jen met Bif Naked’s guitar slinger, Gillian Hanna (lead guitar and vocals) as they played North American outdoor festivals and concerts. All three found the common ground and added Gillian’s brother Ryan Hanna (bass) to the trio and the band was officially born.

The Flairs attribute their unique sound to their individual influences; Dawn’s love for the Ramones, Jen’s ska-influenced punk in the vein of the Dance Hall Crashers, and Hanna’s passion for heavy guitar rock groups like Metallica and Guns ‘N Roses. Those influences go hand in hand with the bands that initially sparked their imagination like Veruca Salt, Nirvana, Garbage and Stone Temple Pilots. In the mix, they have created a sound they can call their own.

The Flairs constantly tour across North America appearing at festivals such as NXNE, Canadian Music Week, New Music West, Seattle’s ROCKRGRL Conference and L.A.’s International Pop Overthrow. They have shared the stage with David Lee Roth, Vanilla Ice and Robin Black. Two videos from their 2004 EP “Ready to Roll” and “Falling into Pieces” were played on MuchMusic on a regular basis.

The Flairs are also about to shoot a video for their second single off the album “Sorry 4 Lovin’ You” to be released during the 2006 summer tour. The Flairs are a forceful live act that continues to expand their already rabid-fan base with passion and drawing power.

2006 Tour Dates

Canada: (more tbc)

May 13th         The Azure – Vancouver, BC

May 19th         Lamplighter – Vancouver. BC

May 26th         Underground, Calgary. AB

May 27th         Velvet Underground, Edmonton, AB

May 28th         Drake Inn, Canmore, AB

May 29th         Wild Bills, Banff, AB

May 30th         Tongue ‘n’ Groove, Lethbridge, AB

May 31st         Distrikt, Regina, SK

June 1st             Roxy, Saskatoon, SK

June 2nd            Zoo, Winnipeg, MB

June 3rd            Kilroy’s, Thunder Bay, ON

June 6th            Foundation, Barrie, ON

June 17th         Zaphod’s, Ottawa, ON

June 23rd         Phog Lounge, Windsor, ON

June 24th         Call The Office, London, ON

U.S. Dates: (more tbc)

June 26th         Shadow Lounge, Pittsburgh, PA

June 28th         The Loft, York, PA

June 29th         Dragonfly, Harrisburg, PA

July 11th         Swayze’s, Atlanta, GA

July 21st         Headhunters Club, Austin, TX

July 25th         Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Albuquerque, NM

July 27th         Dive Bar, Las Vegas, NV

July 28th         Kiss or Kill Club, Los Angeles, CA

July 29th         The Anarchy Library, Downey, CA

July 30th         Zombie Lounge, San Diego, CA

July 31st         Cat Club, Los Angeles, CA

Aug 5th            G Street Pub, Sacramento, CA

Media Inquires Contact:



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Parental Alienation Disorder Leaps into Mental Health History with the American Psychiatric Association

Parental Alienation Disorder Leaps into Mental Health History with the American Psychiatric Association

2009 CSPAS Conference

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 14, 2010

Psychological research and studies have been investigating the phenomenon known as Parental Alienation for the last 60 years. Today, most mental health professionals regard it as a form of child abuse. During the year parental alienation also leaped into mental health history, as the American Psychiatric Association announced it is now considering – Parental Alienation Disorder for inclusion in DSM-5. There are 3 possible ways for P.A.D. to get into DSM-5: in the main body of Appendix A as a mental dis-order, in Appendix B as a relational problem or in Appendix A in one of the appendices of DSM-5 under Criteria Sets and Axes for further study.

The inclusion of Parental Alienation Disorder could help 200,000 children in American every year who suffer from this condition. It could also help abate this form of child abuse and bring families better treatment solutions along the way. In one of the American Journal’s of Family Therapy, Dr. William Bernet defined parental alienation as a mental condition in which a child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce- allies himself or herself strongly with one parent and rejects a relationship with the other parent without legitimate justification. “

In NYC an international conference on parental alienation will be taking place at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine – October 2nd and October 3rd in the Stern Auditorium. Joseph Goldberg, Founder of the CSPAS conference said, ” The conference is important to every mental health professional involved in helping children and families. It also presents an opportunity for many family lawyers to educate themselves in ways that can help their clients obtain court interventions that are appropriate to helping these children.”

If you are interested in attending the conference please visit and register online at or call 647-476-3170. For all media list inquiries about and for the event please contact 646.370.3458.

About C.S.P.A.S

Founded in 2008 by Joseph Goldberg, The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome is an educational organization assisting mental health professionals, family law lawyers, family mediators and other professionals to better understand parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome / disorder. Their goal is to assist children and families in need of educational information and referrals to professionals with a specialized expertise for counseling, psychological or psycho-educational services. Parents and professionals in both the family law and mental health communities will be able to locate a number of experts in parental alienation by simply visiting their website. C.S.P.A.S also disseminates information and literature to professionals and to parents. They maintain a strictly educational position and have no political affiliations. The C.S.P.A.S. does not accept funding from any organization affiliated with parental rights, nor do they take a position in favor of or in opposition to equal parenting. For more information visit


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American Psychiatric Association to Spotlight Symposium on ‘Hot Topics in Afro-American Mental Health’

American Psychiatric Association to Spotlight Symposium on ‘Hot Topics in Afro-American Mental Health’

New Orleans, LA (PRWEB) March 10, 2010

Dr. Smith and his team will present challenges in treating blacks in mental health, HIV and other taboo topics including, HIV and African American men ‘on the down low.’ The Center for Disease Control defines the phrase, ‘on the down low’ or ‘on the DL,’ as the ‘behavior of men who have sex with other men as well as women and who do not identify as gay or bisexual.’ The risks associated with this activity present widespread challenges for HIV prevention professionals. The stigma of homosexuality and the secretive nature of this problem results in a number of women showing up in clinics around the country diagnosed with HIV.

In the general population, “there is an alarming over-representation of Afro-Americans in the United States living with HIV and a large number have critical mental health needs as well,” says Dr. Smith. Mental health concerns in African Americans are supported by the frequently misdiagnosis for schizophrenia rather than a more accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder or other affective disorders in non-HIV patients.

William Lawson, M.D., Ph.D., DFAPA, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Howard University College of Medicine and Hospital, Washington, D.C., will address the unique psychopharmacological findings in the black community. One of the common challenges in treating and identifying mental disorders, according to Dr. Lawson is the ‘lack of research participation by African American patients and investigators in treatment development.’ Patients are suspicious and providers fail to engage the patient in discussions of these problems.

There is a glaring deficit in the use of mental health services by African Americans in the United States. According to a 1999 Surgeon General’s Report:

    Overall, only one-third of Americans with mental illness or a mental health problem get care. Yet, the percentage of African Americans receiving needed care is only half that of non-Hispanic whites. One study reported that nearly 60% of older African American adults were not receiving needed services.

    Nearly 1 in 4 African Americans is uninsured, compared to 16% of the U.S. population. Rates of employer-based health coverage are just over 50% for employed African Americans, compared to over 70% for employed non-Hispanic whites. Medicaid covers nearly 21% of African Americans.

Another expert presenter on the team, Janet Taylor, M.D., Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at Columbia University affiliated Harlem Hospital in New York, and frequent contributor to CBS “The Early Show,” and NBC “The Today Show.” Dr. Taylor will discuss Women’s Mental Health issues. African American women are least likely of all subgroups to seek help in mental health issues. Their reasons may include; lack of insurance, mistrust of the medical community or reliance on family and religious support instead of seeking medical help. As a contributor to O, the Oprah Magazine, Dr. Taylor’s involvement from a grassroots effort is where she makes the most impact in the community. “Being on the frontline with individuals and their families battling the emotional and economic impact of mental illness is where I can make a difference,” says Dr. Taylor.

Harriet Washington, award-winning bioethics journalist and author of “Medical Apartheid,” will discuss the Impact of Past and Current Prejudices. In her book, Washington dissects the dark history of medical experimentation on African Americans from colonial times to the present. She discusses the past and present ethical issues in the treatment of individuals suffering from mental illness and chemical dependency in America. Medical Apartheid clearly paints a vivid, yet disturbing, picture of why African Americans have an innate mistrust of the medical establishment. Washington chronicles the history of African Americans being used as human guinea pigs in experiments from, Thomas Jefferson exposing hundreds of slaves to an untried smallpox vaccine before using it on whites, to the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which black syphilitic men were observed, but not treated in order to document the long term effects of the disease.

Although most of the symposium will focus on African American mental health issues, a segment headed by Zack Cernovsky, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, will discuss the issues from a Canadian perspective. Dr. Cernovsky will describe the attempt of the current head of the infamous Pioneer Fund, J.P. Rushton, to influence physicians and psychiatrists, to believe in the genetic inferiority of blacks. The Pioneer Fund is a non-profit organization, established in 1937, to advance the scientific study of heredity and human differences. Scientific scrutiny shows that Rushton’s methodology (e.g., measuring head circumference by tape as a substitute for IQ tests) and his generalizations from inadequate samples discredit his work. According to Cernovsky, “his books have probably misled at least some physicians.” These physicians may resort to discriminatory practices in their clinical decisions about black patients.

Mental health professionals and psychiatrists are uniquely positioned to assist patients in improving mental and physical health. The overall goal of the symposium is to provide a better understanding and awareness of the inimitable challenges in treating the African American mental health patient.

For information or the availability of any the above speakers, please contact Rhonda Daley, Pacificus Marketing Group, LLC at (707) 812-4380, For a fact sheet pertaining to this release, please visit:


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International Celebrities Condemn Torture through Solitary Confinement of Mentally Ill American Prisoners

International Celebrities Condemn Torture through Solitary Confinement of Mentally Ill American Prisoners

New York, NY (PRWEB) February 1, 2006

Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement, a coalition of over 65 organizations, including Community Access, Human Rights Watch, and the Urban Justice Center, has issued statements from Maya Angelou, Margot Kidder, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Andrew Solomon, and Alvin F. Poussaint, MD denouncing the inhumane practice of placing prisoners with psychiatric disabilities into solitary confinement. This outcry surfaces in conjunction with the unanimous January 10th Supreme Court decision, United States v. Georgia, No. 04-1203, which held that under the American With Disabilities Act, the State of Georgia lacks immunity from a lawsuit brought by a disabled prisoner, Tony Goodman; and the December 30th signing into law of the McCain Amendment, prohibiting cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody.

Vuka Stricevic, Director of Public Policy at Community Access, stated, “We are delighted that these outspoken celebrities have given their support of the Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement coalition’s efforts to stop the torture of prisoners with psychiatric disabilities currently being inhumanely housed in solitary confinement cells. Irreconcilable with the Americans With Disabilities Act, allowing prisoners with psychiatric disabilities to be sentenced to solitary confinement is an egregious practice that results in sensory deprivation, severe mental decompensation, and oftentimes suicide.” Ms. Stricevic is available with background information and personal stories for reporters.

Margot Kidder, actress and political activist:

“Putting mentally ill and possibly delusional prisoners in solitary confinement is torture, no more, no less. We were all shocked and shamed by the disgustingly inhumane treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Should we not be equally shocked by the disgustingly inhumane torture of mentally ill prisoners here at home?”

Maya Angelou, best-selling author of “Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”:

“The mentally ill are already alone. They live in a world that is broken, terrorized and desperately alone. Putting such people who are already shattered into solitary confinement is unnecessary cruelty. It is the rust on the razor which threatens the throat. They need health, at best and human company at least.”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research; Chair of Harvard University Department of African and African American Studies:

“[The solitary confinement of mentally ill prisoners is) a horrific problem, where life itself becomes a grueling punishment and too often an unbearable torture.”

Andrew Solomon, author of best-selling National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression;” board member of the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign:

“There are few practices in modern American that are more barbaric than our jailing of people who suffer from mental illness, many of whom do not receive appropriate clinical interventions, do not have the control of their illness that such interventions might enable, and are left desperate and incoherent to the worst of prison abuses.

Mental illness and the regimented life of prison do not sit comfortably together. Prisoners with mental illness will be seen as aggressive, troubled, and inchoate. These qualities are frustrating to the guards whose duty it is to monitor such prisoners. They result in ever-stronger disciplinary measures. This is horrible for all concerned. Treating such prisoners for their mental health complaints would improve the quality of their lives; of the lives of other prisoners; and of the lives of the guards. It would also be humane and decent.

It would be horrible to have an overpowering psychological impetus to commit criminal acts; there is no need to compound that horror with solitary confinement, a state that would drive even the most sane among us close to the edge.”

Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, Director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston; Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; co-author of “Lay My Burden Down: Unraveling Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans”:

“Solitary confinement of mentally ill prisoners is archaic and only aggravates difficulties for all concerned. Psychotic and paranoid inmates become more psychotic and paranoid when placed in solitary. Individuals with major depression will deteriorate with a greater likelihood of become suicidal. For the mentally ill, their condition often precludes comprehending the purpose of such confinement in the first place. Frequently, the disturbing behavior leading to placement in solitary confinement is a manifestation of mental disorder and not a willful disobedience toward authority. Psychiatric management is more likely to lead to improved behavior than the use of harsh punishment.

To help inmates, we must begin to provide quality mental health services within our neglected so-called houses of correction. Mental health care is critical to facilitating prisoners’ successful reentry to society. In addition, inmates need appropriate follow-up services to ease adaptation to the outside world.

Placing inmates with mental illnesses in solitary confinement is inhumane, representing the antithesis of good mental health and treatment practices.”


Vuka Stricevic

Director of Public Policy

Community Access

(212) 780-1400, ext. 7792.


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